Many young footballers in India grow up watching European football. Anybody will tell you the best players in the world ply their trade in the great continent. Heroes like David Beckham, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Thierry Henry are the legends some of the current generation of young footballers in our country look up to.
We all dream of being able to play in Europe and make our country proud but very few get to live that dream. However, 5 of our young and very talented footballers are currently living that very dream.
Eric Benny, one of the men responsible for making this happen has helped set up a partnership with French club FC Metz, allowing the players to train with the academy at the club. Something this special does not happen every day and it truly is a remarkable achievement by the boys.
The famed academy has produced great players like Robert Pires, Louis Saha, Franck Ribery, Miralem Pjanic among others. That in itself is a great achievement for these young Indian lads.
Introducing Eric Benny
Eric Benny is a former Indian footballer who plied his trade in the mid-1990’s. Post retirement, he took up management and served as the General Manager of Indian national team and the I-League club Pailan Arrows.
He took the initiative of starting a Sports Management Company in 2008 with the sole purpose of taking on several football related projects related to grassroots development like the collaboration with FC Metz. These projects have allowed many a talented Indian youngster the opportunity to train with professional clubs in Europe.
He has also worked on a unique partnership with FC Metz, in France and with Deutsches Fussball Internat (DFI), in Germany so as to train and hone the skills of young Indian footballers in a European environment.
What he said about FC Metz and the Indian youngsters
Sportskeeda had the opportunity to speak with Eric about this venture and he gave us insight on the important aspects that build the foundation for any young footballer.
“Attention to detail is something that most Indian players lack in their all-round structural development mentally.”
He also placed emphasis on the social factors the youngsters have to mentally adapt to because of the multi-cultural environment at the club.
The lack of substantial progress in the quality of sport over a long time period has been frustrating to football lovers of the country
After an analysis of the system in place, experts have zeroed in on the root of the problem, which coincidentally, in this case, is the lack of grassroots’ fundamentals being drilled into our young players, something that is the emphasis of the training program at FC Metz
“When we are talking about details or the small adjustments which need to develop in the fundamental DNA of a football player we more often than not are talking about the foundation of any system in which a player is trained which his techniques are.”
“This has been our focus at the Fc Metz and AIFF in collaboration with Eric Benny's program, this focus on technique has adjusted if not shifted the mindset of all players that are in the program.”
Benny also believes that details like one and off the ball orientation ( understanding your spaces ), dribbling strength with the weaker foot, coordination, first touch, creating space, proprioception ( understanding angles ) in the air when deadening the ball so as to avoid injury when you land back on the ground etc are things are rarely taught at length in our system of training.
“Our Indian boys at FC Metz have taken this opportunity to learn and add some of those important foundational adjustments to their footballing minds and improve on their game considerably. The boys have seen the level of football that is required internationally which gives them the drive to peruse this dream”
Director of FC Metz Academy: Denis Schaeffer
As you may know, the FC Metz academy has had some of the best footballers come through their system. A big reason for its success is the great care with which the academy has been looked after and the importance the club have placed on home grown talent.
Denis Schaeffer has been at the helm for many years now and has overseen the academy’s functioning and growth. So for the Indian players to have the opportunity to work with some of the best trainers in the continent is a big step for the sport in our country.
Schaeffer expressed his viewpoints on the progression of the boys at the academy.
“After a few weeks in Metz, the conclusion of the Indian player's stay is very satisfying. Their football level was a good surprise to us. Their work at the AIFF training center brought them the fundamental tools and allows them to adapt easily to our technical constraints and the training rhythm in our structure.
Their excellent state-of-mind and motivation to take full advantage of their experience helped them integrate easily in our formation schedule. The amount of work planned and the number of games played will surely lead them to the next level.”
The encouraging words from the director has to bring a great sense of satisfaction for those involved in the project and true pride to the hearts of our countrymen.
Eric Benny on the young Indian Players at FC Metz
Laishram Bedashwor Singh
Beda is an all-round player but does not have one specific strength. He usually stays in his comfort zone and can sometimes be reluctant to push his boundaries. He must work harder and more intensively to be more involved in the game. He needs to be more demanding, focused and rigorous in order to reach the next level.
Jerry has the strongest personality and is the leader of the group. Generous, hardworking, willful and motivated, Jerry has every quality required to improve his technique and to be more consistent in his play. He is explosive and powerful, qualities that make him a competent defender. He specializes in 1 on1 situations and makes it hard for attackers to get by. He now needs to work on his offensive qualities to become a high-quality player.
Prosenjit has good technique under pressure and a very good work ethic in the game. He is always very involved in his work and very attentive to the instructions given. Despite, being quite shy and discreet he has the potential to improve in several facets of his game.
Bodo has a good head and shows great ambition. He is very motivated to keep on improving but needs to work on his precision in the last third. His technique is good but needs work when it comes to pressure situations. He also needs to have a better understanding of the game and work on his defensive ability without the ball. But there is no doubt that his desire and bravery will help him reach those heights.
Thapa is a smart player with an excellent reading of the game. He is a very good midfielder, his decision making and the quality of his passes makes him the pivotal point of the team. The first priority is to develop his athletic quality. For now, he does not have the technique to make a difference in the defense of a team at a high level. Nevertheless, his approach and work-rate is exemplary and he has the potential to make big strides in his progress.
While there is absolutely no doubt these youngsters have a bright future, the significance this holds for Indian football is much deeper.These sort of stories bring hope to the future of the sport in India. It is now up to the men in charge of Indian football to use this as an inspiration to create more such opportunities and plant the idea of ‘Dreaming Big’ in the minds of the current generation of young Indian footballers.Published 27 Jun 2016, 18:16 IST